Glenn Irwin is confident he can emerge as a title contender in this year’s Bennetts British Superbike Championship, which blasts off over the Easter weekend.
Irwin is now in his third season in Paul Bird’s Be Wiser Ducati team and the Carrickfergus man is aiming to hit the ground running at Donington Park, where he finished on the rostrum in 2017.
The 28-year-old has completed an encouraging pre-season testing programme in Spain and at the official BSB test last week at Donington, when Irwin was third fastest behind Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) and his PBM team-mate and reigning champion, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne.
“I am looking forward to starting our season off this weekend at Donington Park,” Irwin said.
“I feel I have made a big step up over the off season along with the team understanding what I want from the bike to make it a little bit better.
“It’s great to be thinking that going into race weekend, I can target the podium in both races as a minimum,” he added.
“That said, it’s a strong series with a lot of depth and I’ll not be resting on my laurels, although it was good to get a podium at Donington last year.
“The hard work has started but I’m confident we have what it takes to be a title contender this season.”
Lisburn’s Carl Phillips has joined the championship this year and will make his race debut at Donington for the Gearlink Kawasaki team.
Toomebridge rider Michael Laverty has also been on the pace in pre-season testing and is back with Northern Ireland’s Tyco BMW team this season, joining Christian Iddon on the S1000RR.
In the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship, a host of Northern Ireland riders will have aspirations of winning the title.
Former champion Keith Farmer, last year’s Dickies British Supersport champion, will lead the charge for Tyco BMW, while two-time British champion Alastair Seeley returns to the 1000cc class on a Kawasaki after signing a deal with GR Motorsport.
Another former champion, Josh Elliott from Ballinamallard, is a major contender on the Morello Kawasaki along with Andy Reid on the EHA Racing Aprilia.